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RAY SUAREZ: For an Iraqi perspective on these developments, we’re joined by Adnan Pachachi. He’s a member of the Iraq Governing Council, and part of that country’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly meeting this week in New York. Welcome back to the program, sir.
ADNAN PACHACHI, Iraq Governing Council: Thank you.
RAY SUAREZ: Today we got the word that Aquila al-Hashimi has died of her wounds. What does her death mean to her fellow members of the Governing Council, and to Iraq?
ADNAN PACHACHI: It’s a terrible loss, a great loss. And we were shocked. We will miss her very much. Akila came with me two months ago when I addressed the Security Council on the 22 of July, and she has been a constant friend and helper, and we had great hopes for her future in the service of her country.
RAY SUAREZ: Was there a sense when you as a group took these jobs on the Governing Council that you might be the target of assassination attempts?
ADNAN PACHACHI: Oh, yes, I mean, we had no illusion that we would be targeted very soon, because there are forces in the country and outside who want to destabilize the situation in Iraq and don’t want it to progress towards a democratic civil society.
RAY SUAREZ: Did Ms. al-Hashimi’s status as one of the few members of the Baath Party at one time now on the Governing Council make her a personal target for followers of Hussein who might be doing revenge attacks?
ADNAN PACHACHI: That’s possible, of course. But I don’t think she was a senior member of the Baath Party, as far as I know, most senior officials had to join the party in order to stay in their positions. But I don’t think she had any loyalty or ideological commitment to the Baath Party.
RAY SUAREZ: This has been a busy week for the Iraqi delegation in New York. You met with Secretary Powell. What was the nature of your conversations with him?
ADNAN PACHACHI: Well, it was a very friendly and warm and fruitful meeting we had this morning with Secretary Powell. He has been very helpful to Iraq, in helping Iraq to occupy its rightful place in the Arab League and also here in the United Nations General Assembly, and also the Security Council. And we discussed the future of Iraq. And he was very informative about the possibility of ironing out the differences regarding the draft resolution now pending before the Security Council. We are eager to see a resolution of the Security Council in which the situation is clarified in which Iraq would be given a greater role in the management of our own affairs.
RAY SUAREZ: Could you describe the differences in the points of view between members of the Governing Council and the United States administration over a transfer of power and responsibility, timetables, those sorts of things?
ADNAN PACHACHI: Well, actually, there are a lot of agreements between us and the United States, for example, in the draft resolution circulated by the United States, the Security Council asks the Governing Council to set a timetable for a constitution and for elections. So we are agreed that our main task is really to prepare for elections by drafting a constitution.
There must have been, there may have been some misunderstanding about our desire for sovereignty to be recognized, not given back to Iraq because the Iraqi state exists and continues to exist and the sovereignty of it exists too. This was very clear in the two previous resolutions of the Security Council, in which the Council affirmed and reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. We believe that this sovereignty should be vested in the Governing Council, and we see no contradiction between that and the fact that the coalition will continue its work in consultation with the Iraqi Governing Council. And many fields, especially in the field of the maintenance of law and order, in the economic restoration of Iraq, in the provision of essential services, this will continue, and we are grateful, in fact, for the suggestion of, or the proposal of the president to allocate $20 billion for the restoration of Iraq.
We feel that they should be full cooperation, and continuous consultation between us and the United States about the ways and means of spending this money, and we are not asking that this money will be given to us to spend it as we like, no. This has not happened anywhere and we don’t expect it to happen in Iraq. But it is important that this should be an equal partnership, a partnership of equals. And this is an indispensable partnership. And I believe there are differences of emphasis here and there, these differences can be ironed out.
We have been cooperating very well with Ambassador Bremer, he’s been very helpful to us, he has made some excellent suggestions, and we have been interacting with him all the time and I think this can continue. But that can continue even if sovereignty is vested or at least if it is acknowledged, that is invested in the Governing Council.
RAY SUAREZ: Well, are your partners on the Governing Council, and your new cabinet which came to office earlier this month, ready to take on the day-to-day running of this country, if you were to go on the faster timetable proposed by other members of the Security Council, would you be ready today to handle that responsibility?
ADNAN PACHACHI: I think we are ready. We appointed the ministers, the Governing Council appointed the ministers and the ministers will be entrusted with the task of filling all the vacancies in their ministries, and they’ll be constantly referring to us, the Governing Council, they are accountable to us, and we have the authority to oversee their work. And, as Ambassador Bremer said I think yesterday, if I’m not mistaken, that it is one of the most educated group of ministers we have had in the world perhaps, quite a number of Ph.D.’s and others. So I mean Iraqis certainly are ready and prepared and able to administer they countries. Many Iraqis have helped in fact to found other countries and to organize the government and the constitution of other countries. So they certainly are able and ready to do the same thing for their own country.
RAY SUAREZ: Well, earlier this week, President Bush in his speech to the U. N. referred to moving in Iraq at an unhurried pace, and today the secretary of state said a prerequisite to Iraqis taking full management of Iraq over is a constitution and an elected government. How long is all that going to take, are you ready to start work on the constitution?
ADNAN PACHACHI: Well, we have already started work on the constitution. We set up a special committee to recommend the ways and means of convening a constitutional conference, which will draft the constitution that will be submitted to the people in referendum. And before that, of course, there will be a chance for the people to discuss the constitution through meetings, town meetings, publications, discussions — something like the Federalist Papers, the United States when the U.S. Constitution was being discussed. And that should take hopefully not more than seven or eight months, I think.
But of course, you know, the speed of the whole process will depend on how quickly we can draft a constitution. Constitutions sometimes are drafted in a short time, sometimes they take longer. But it is in our interest and also the interest of the United States and the world in fact is to expedite this whole constitutional process, so that there will be a government in Iraq, elected by the people and deriving its legitimacy from the consent of the population.
RAY SUAREZ: And, quickly before we go, sir, is the urgency, is the expediency that you’re talking about pushed in part by the continuing violence in the country? Is there a sense that you have to get this work done quickly in order to put down that violence?
ADNAN PACHACHI: Well, of course, I think once it is perceived by the people of Iraq that there is an elected government, I think that will improve the situation. And anyway, in any case, the Governing Council now, in cooperation with the coalition authority, are trying to increase the number of national policemen, and also of the army in order to equip them, train them properly so that they can face this violence that is been going on for some months now.
RAY SUAREZ: Adnan Pachachi, thanks for joining us.
ADNAN PACHACHI: Thank you very much.